French PM hails change in French-Algerian relations
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Along with drumming up support for Sarkozy's Mediterranean Union project, French Prime Minister François Fillon and his Algerian counterpart signed an accord on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. (Story: K.Williams)
Making the first visit by a French premier in 22 years, Prime Minister Francois Fillon declared French firms would not be driven out of the north African country by armed groups, following the death of a Frenchman in a bombing this month.
"We will not give in to threats," El Watan newspaper quoted him as saying in an interview marking his two-day visit to France's largest trading partner in Africa, which still suffers sporadic attacks by rebels fighting for purist Islamic rule.
Al Qaeda's north Africa wing said it was behind twin bombings that killed a French engineer in
The engineer was the first French citizen killed in political violence in
Fillon and Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem presided over the signing of an accord on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. It provides for cooperation in research, training, technology transfer and the exploration and production of uranium, sectors of interest to French nuclear plant builder Areva.
"This is an historic moment that is representative of the transformation in our relations," Fillon said, accompanied by six ministers including Defence Minister Herve Morin and Economic Strategy Minister Christine Lagarde.
"There is no clearer signal of
Algerian commentators say sometimes prickly political ties remain hostage to the past. Many of
French business executives say their country's sometimes stormy political ties with
More than 250 companies have business with
Belkhadem, reiterating a call for a loosening of visa rules, said bilateral ties could not reach their full potential if they were "amputated from their human dimension".
Ministers also signed an accord on defence cooperation and initialled a memorandum of understanding on financial cooperation to simplify legal procedures for French businesses.
Companies included in Fillon's entourage are Total, Gaz de France, EADS, Arianespace, Saint-Gobain and naval shipyard DCNS.
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